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Living Locally

Karma & Cents creates movement for new philanthropic model

June 20, 2018

For much of her professional life, Gena Rotstein has been working in philanthropy. However, she began feeling like philanthropy’s current model was broken, and in late 2017 she alongside her friend and business partner, Richard Ouellette, created Karma & Cents -- a “Social Impact Lab moving individuals, families and family enterprises from Traditional Philanthropy to Philanthropy 3.0.”

As Gena explains, “We combined the best of two worlds; the almost 20 years of science and technology enterprise background that Richard has with my two decades of non-profit management experience.” ‘Philanthropy 3.0’ is a combination of traditional philanthropy, systemic change giving, and impact investing. “It’s not just from a purely charitable perspective,” she says. “But from a holistic, ‘how-do-we-choose-to-operate-in-the-world’ perspective.”

Karma & Cents designs giving portfolios for multigenerational family foundations and family offices – with a specialty in wealth transition and women in leadership --that are looking to solve systemic issues such as poverty, gender identity, and NIMBYism (‘Not in My Backyard’). In short, they work with clients to help them finance solutions instead of fund problems.

The firm’s multi-faceted approach looks at a variety of funding streams with a portfolio manager, funders, and the family’s financial advisors or accountants to make the most impact on these issues in the affected communities.

“We realized one of the most successful ways to address social-systemic issues was by convening ‘strange bedfellow’ conversations,” Gena says. “If money were the solution, we would have solved these problems a long time ago. It is in this vein that we approach our five-step lab process. By bringing groups together with different operating mindsets to create real conversations to solve the problem.”

“We create a safe space to be able to have these conversations, poke holes, and hold up mirrors to participants.”

Richard and Gena love being able to work closely with families alongside their advisors and have plans for Karma & Cents to become the choice philanthropy advisory firm for family offices across Canada.


Click here to learn more about Karma & Cents’ services
Check out the wealth of philanthropic resources here.
Connect with Karma & Cents on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Visit Karma & Cents’ Sustainability Profile on the REAP website. 

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